Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lively Livingston: Gil's Goods spices up Livingston, Montana, dining

Brian Menges, proprietor of  Gil's Goods , is hands-on, welcoming Cookie, and bringing water for Nick's and Nora's
doggie dish (on the table.) Polite dogs are welcome at Gil's Goods, next door to the famed Murray Hotel in Livingston.  


Gil's Goods attracts a host of regulars and tourists staying at the Murray.

BRIAN MENGES is an amiable entrepreneur who loves what he does and enjoys watching lively people appreciate the delicious food he prepares.
The ambitious 43-year old is proud of his eatery, Gil's Goods, and the inventive way he "recycled" the old Gil's Gifts sign to  read "Gil's Goods."
 While Livingston is embracing the eatery, Menges is giving back. He employs over six dozen people, making his one of the largest operations in town. Between Gil’s Goods at 207 West Park, the adjoining Murray Bar, and his fine dining eatery, the acclaimed 2nd Street Bistro (123 N. 2nd St.), he has a staff of 74 enthusiastic, capable people.
As one dines at Gil's, a view of the historic Depot, and the colorful
Yellowstone Park buses  provides additional entertainment. 
WHEN GIL'S Goods opened in May of 2012, Menges trumpeted his achievement: "I'd wanted to have a European-style cafe with sustainible, organic, local and ethical food," he says. (Thus his word play on "SOLE" food.)
Gil’s is open 17 hours a day, seven days a week, from 7 a.m. -- opening with a sure cure for hangovers for those who have had too much fun on a "Livingston Saturday Night" (or on any other day!) Try tasty huevos rancheros or spicy biscuits and gravy.
Menges also keeps the place open until midnight servings to nightowls hungry for a bite. (He'll stay open later if traffic demands.)
Gil’s serves its tasty fare with pride because it's made in the small, efficient kitchen with its bread and pizza ovens.
A beautiful brick wall, uncovered in
a two-year remodeling project,
adds charm and character.
  EARLY EACH morning, fragrant goodies begin to emerge: flaky croissants, lavish Danishes, warm biscuits, delectable scones, and European style bread with crunchy crust --- fantastic dipped in the herby tomato soup. A quesadilla appetizer is terrific.
Pretty cakes, truffles, cookies, éclairs and other elegant desserts are prepared on site for both Gil’s and 2nd Street around the corner.
Gil's Goods sign used the old "Gil's Gifts" sign
with just a few letters to change.
After the breakfast and brunch rush, Gil's segues to burgers, brats, wonderful soups, Niçoise salad, and a splendid Greek lamb kebob salad. Throughout the day, Gil's serves an ambitious 13 kinds of wood-fired pizza, and Livingston's own luscious Wilcoxson’s ice cream.
THE "GIL'S" name stuck -- both to honor the longtime store (remember those Gil's Got It signs on the highway?) and to preserve the landmark sign. 
Menges, as chef and proprietor, has a backstory dating to 2004 when he grew tired of cooking in Vegas, Boulder and Jackson Hole.  "I had an opportunity to buy this for about what I'd have paid for a three-year lease in Jackson," he said. "I had to do it. I'd earned my stripes in fantastic kitchens and dining rooms and was ready to blow the roof off Livingston!"
Christene taught and read last week on a trans-Atlantic crossing.
Her last Montana workshop is this Saturday in Harlowton.
Did he do it? The proof is in the returning customers.
"I don't know what we did without Gil's," says one satisfied diner. "It's really part of life here."

COMING THURSDAY: Our weekend blog publishes early this week, to give readers a chance to plan a day trip to Harlowton Saturday or Nye, Montana, Sunday, on a lovely autumn weekend. The last of six Writer's Voice summer writing workshops unfolds in the Harlowton Library, (There are still openings.) It encourages memoir, fiction, poetry or non-fiction writers.  Meyers' exercises will jump-star the muse in all levels. To register, call 406-294-1620 or email corby@skinnerbenoit.com, or nwiddicombe@yahoo.com
The experience includes lunch. A reading from "Lilian's Last Dance" follows in the Upper Musselshell museum. Sunday's 4 p.m. reading is at Windy Flats Gallery on the West Fork of the Stillwater north of Nye. All welcome to both days' events. More up next at www.whereiscookie.com


  1. Oh, my, we remember Gil's from the 1950s!
    What a joy to read about this inventive young man and the appealing eatery. We'll stop by next time we're up from Colorado! Fun story & photos. Love the doggie bowl on the table. Menu sounds enticing.

  2. We always overnight at the Murray Hotel, whenever we are driving across our beautiful state from eastern Montana to Missoula.
    Now we have one more reason to stop there! Good for Gil's!